£2.7 million of planning agreements payments to City of York Council left unspent

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Updated in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

MILLIONS of pounds handed to City of York Council through planning agreements over a five-year period went unspent, new figures have revealed.

Out of more than £3.2 million received through Section 106 agreements from developers between 2008 and 2013, about £2.7 million was unspent, according to statistics obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

Such agreements are legally binding obligations, intended to make developments acceptable in planning terms, with the money going towards services and work on such as highways projects, recreational facilities, education, health and affordable housing.

Examples of Section 106 payments unspent or largely unspent by the council include:

• £73,000 paid in 2011/12 towards affordable housing, car club parking spaces, contributions towards education at Joseph Rowntree and Park Grove Primary schools, open space payments and a footpath contribution. Only £850 was spent.

• £41,000 paid in 2012/13 towards provision or enhancement of publicly accessible informal open space and towards outdoor sport facilities at Outgang, Heslington. Nothing was spent.

• £81,000 paid in 2008/09 towards improved bus stops on Heworth Green, education and open space. £77,000 was unspent.

Mike Slater, assistant director of City and Environmental Services, said the sole purpose of Section 106 money was to invest it back into the community and infrastructure, so that residents could benefit and the additional demand created by, for example, a new housing development, could be coped with.

“Any ‘unspent’ money can legitimately be held for a number of years as per the legal agreement,” he said.

“This allows money to be invested meaningfully into suitable schemes or projects which may require several years to establish. In all cases, when money is ‘unspent’, the interested is credited to the original sum and all of it is used for its intended purpose.”

He said that with education payments, local authorities had to wait until numbers at the relevant schools were high enough, or predicted to be high enough, to justify capital spend on new accommodation.

“It would be foolish to immediately spend £120,000 plus on a new classroom when the council has only received, for example, £10,000 for the provision of one pupil place.”

He said most agreements had ‘claw back clauses,’ so that if the council did not utilise the monies, they were retrievable by the applicant.

Planning minister Nick Boles has said developers should not be made to pay section 106 contributions unless there is a 'pressing need for them', speaking after a BBC investigation revealed councils in England are holding about £1.5 billion in unspent 106 cash.

Comments (11)

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10:49am Fri 10 Jan 14

rws841 says...

This is a bit of a non-story isn't it? It does take time for projects and community and infastructure improvements to go through.

It would be pretty daft and very wasteful to immediately spend money you recive; makes a lot more sense to earmark it for suitable projects as and when they come along.

I'd assume that this practise is standard in Councils.
This is a bit of a non-story isn't it? It does take time for projects and community and infastructure improvements to go through. It would be pretty daft and very wasteful to immediately spend money you recive; makes a lot more sense to earmark it for suitable projects as and when they come along. I'd assume that this practise is standard in Councils. rws841
  • Score: -11

11:22am Fri 10 Jan 14

BL2 says...

This was in the papers last week / weekend. It should be spent on improving green spaces and other facilities as soon as possible!
This was in the papers last week / weekend. It should be spent on improving green spaces and other facilities as soon as possible! BL2
  • Score: 21

1:04pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Mulgrave says...

I know of a shop that had ceased trading in a village at the edge of CoYCs area, the building was mid 18th century and had been a house upto the 1950s. The plot was quite small and the owners wanted to do a quality conversion back to a 2 bedroomed house, with a parking space and a small garden area - very expensive as there were structural faults. Outcome:- S106 requirement for a £2500 contribution to open space, despite the site (and the whole village) being adjacent to open countryside with walks in all directions and a nearby village green with play equipment that was there when the property was originally a house and still is today.

A good deal of these requirements are questionable, and only serve to put upward pressure on house prices
I know of a shop that had ceased trading in a village at the edge of CoYCs area, the building was mid 18th century and had been a house upto the 1950s. The plot was quite small and the owners wanted to do a quality conversion back to a 2 bedroomed house, with a parking space and a small garden area - very expensive as there were structural faults. Outcome:- S106 requirement for a £2500 contribution to open space, despite the site (and the whole village) being adjacent to open countryside with walks in all directions and a nearby village green with play equipment that was there when the property was originally a house and still is today. A good deal of these requirements are questionable, and only serve to put upward pressure on house prices Mulgrave
  • Score: 8

1:45pm Fri 10 Jan 14

CaroleBaines says...

Another FOI abuse by the Press. What is going on, editor???
Another FOI abuse by the Press. What is going on, editor??? CaroleBaines
  • Score: -13

2:02pm Fri 10 Jan 14

mike.......durkin says...

cut the rent and coucil tax that be better
cut the rent and coucil tax that be better mike.......durkin
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Rocking Horse says...

rws841 wrote:
This is a bit of a non-story isn't it? It does take time for projects and community and infastructure improvements to go through. It would be pretty daft and very wasteful to immediately spend money you recive; makes a lot more sense to earmark it for suitable projects as and when they come along. I'd assume that this practise is standard in Councils.
The story omitted to say that £1.4m remains unspent by the council after over five years, and that much of this should be paid back to the developers !

By comparison, Leeds received £15m in the last five years, and their spending in the period was £22m !
[quote][p][bold]rws841[/bold] wrote: This is a bit of a non-story isn't it? It does take time for projects and community and infastructure improvements to go through. It would be pretty daft and very wasteful to immediately spend money you recive; makes a lot more sense to earmark it for suitable projects as and when they come along. I'd assume that this practise is standard in Councils.[/p][/quote]The story omitted to say that £1.4m remains unspent by the council after over five years, and that much of this should be paid back to the developers ! By comparison, Leeds received £15m in the last five years, and their spending in the period was £22m ! Rocking Horse
  • Score: 8

3:06pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Rocking Horse says...

CaroleBaines wrote:
Another FOI abuse by the Press. What is going on, editor???
The FOI wasn't by the Press, actually.

It was by a researcher (Ruth Hayhurst) on behalf of the BBC.

A York citizen drew the Press's attention to it.
[quote][p][bold]CaroleBaines[/bold] wrote: Another FOI abuse by the Press. What is going on, editor???[/p][/quote]The FOI wasn't by the Press, actually. It was by a researcher (Ruth Hayhurst) on behalf of the BBC. A York citizen drew the Press's attention to it. Rocking Horse
  • Score: 7

5:51pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Rocking Horse says...

Spending less than 20% of the money CYC received in the last five years gives the impression that the money was taken under false pretences and wasn't needed, or that the council are doing a poor job in using the money. Either way, it puts the council in a bad light !
Spending less than 20% of the money CYC received in the last five years gives the impression that the money was taken under false pretences and wasn't needed, or that the council are doing a poor job in using the money. Either way, it puts the council in a bad light ! Rocking Horse
  • Score: 7

5:59pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Igiveinthen says...

CaroleBaines wrote:
Another FOI abuse by the Press. What is going on, editor???
If we didn't have FOI, we wouldn't know this was going would we?
[quote][p][bold]CaroleBaines[/bold] wrote: Another FOI abuse by the Press. What is going on, editor???[/p][/quote]If we didn't have FOI, we wouldn't know this was going would we? Igiveinthen
  • Score: 7

6:20pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Mulgrave says...

It is interesting to note that the highest birth rate for 40 years has coincided with the lowest housebuilding numbers in decades. From that aspect perhaps the figures will start to look a little different in 4 or 5 years time, but pitch S106 too high to provide all the extra school places and the houses won't get built - but children still need schooling whether they are in a new build or Granny's spare room.
It is interesting to note that the highest birth rate for 40 years has coincided with the lowest housebuilding numbers in decades. From that aspect perhaps the figures will start to look a little different in 4 or 5 years time, but pitch S106 too high to provide all the extra school places and the houses won't get built - but children still need schooling whether they are in a new build or Granny's spare room. Mulgrave
  • Score: 4

9:07am Sat 11 Jan 14

CaroleBaines says...

Igiveinthen wrote:
CaroleBaines wrote:
Another FOI abuse by the Press. What is going on, editor???
If we didn't have FOI, we wouldn't know this was going would we?
I do not say ban FOI - I say they are overused in journalism to fabricate stories where they do not really exist. See first reply on this story, to me that says it all. Just my view.
[quote][p][bold]Igiveinthen[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]CaroleBaines[/bold] wrote: Another FOI abuse by the Press. What is going on, editor???[/p][/quote]If we didn't have FOI, we wouldn't know this was going would we?[/p][/quote]I do not say ban FOI - I say they are overused in journalism to fabricate stories where they do not really exist. See first reply on this story, to me that says it all. Just my view. CaroleBaines
  • Score: 1

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